by Debo Adejugbe
Finally, His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State should take a good look at his party and apportion the blames for losing Ekiti where it rightly belongs. No need for the grandstanding and the pretentiousness that he understands the needs of Ekiti people more than them
By now, we are all familiar with the legendary Ekiti rice argument that has taken a life of its own after the victory of Ayodele Fayose in the governorship elections held in that state. The general consensus – from those too miffed about the victory of such a derided and highly contentious individual – is that he got “riced’ in. As ridiculous as this sounds, many supposed intellectuals are jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to explain away the trouncing the major opposition party received in Ekiti.
Governor Babatunde Fashola, “an otherwise sensible” voice, even went up a notch in his criticism of the Ekiti voters, subtly questioning their sense of loyalty to a governor who ‘helped’ them spend their money well – even if they disagree with the outcome such spending has on the quality of their daily lives. He felt, intellectually, all that is needed is to ‘rice’ the people a little, appealing to their stomach infrastructure and ignore any talk of the physical infrastructures that shapes the economic realities of a state, then you are elected. The assumption is that Fayose has never shown Ekiti people that it is possible to merge ‘stomachstructure’ and ‘tangiblestructure’.
It is extremely hard to ignore a voice like Fashola’s. Here was a man who saw it fit to distribute N100 recharge cards to the voters while contesting in Lagos. It is important to understand this basic comparison (or distinction) as Lagos voters, irrespective of who is analyzing, are more sophisticated than those in Ekiti. Should we now say that the voters sold out to him on the strength of the recharge cards he gave out? Same argument goes for Ekiti and no matter how the opposition tries to cover up its own inefficiency by blaming the voters; the simplistic views such as those held by Fashola and various foot soldiers of the party will not define Ekiti.
In April 2012 when I had a conversation with a very close friend about the government in place, the answers were an echo of the sentiments that other people on ground shared with me: that the government had lost the people. He was anticipating the next elections. That was a mere 18 months into the governor’s term and someone who ordinarily has an aversion for the polling units was itching for the next election.
Fast-forward to June 21, 2014, several friends and relatives called me and defiantly announced that they had voted and the common theme was Ayodele Fayose and I wondered if things were that bad. One even scolded me for not congratulating them for pushing Kayode Fayemi out and voting was still going on then. That was how strong the conviction was, that all Ekiti people shared their sentiments about the governor. But in truth, they don’t hate the governor, just that they are not comfortable with him and his party at the helm.
For all the excoriation that the Ekiti people have been made to suffer over the election, one is tempted to check the definition of democracy again. If democracy is truly about choice, irrespective of what those choices are predicated upon, why then criminalize a people for exercising such powers? Why must there be an ulterior reason behind the choices made if such people are expected to make the choices in the first place? If as a party, all you do is pirouette and derisively pillory the electorates when things don’t go your way, how do you expect them to trust you in subsequent elections? The expectation was that they will get back to the drawing board and figure where it all went wrong. But no, Ekiti people have to be taught a lesson.
The truth is that: those who were close to the governor lost him the elections. If 18 months into your tenure the people already felt disconnected and no one cared to correct such impressions and take over the narratives from the opposition, you have already planned to fail. The party – APC – left it a little too late to correct some of the impressions the people have of the governor. The allegation that he built a University in Ghana has been making the rounds for long and no one felt it was important to address that issue head on.
Rather than strategising on how to win an election for its candidate, the APC were busy blaming President Goodluck Jonathan for foisting Ayo Fayose on the PDP in their primaries. While it is absurd that such matter should be their major preoccupation going into an election, it brought to light their famed internal democracy issues which already pushed out Opeyemi Bamidele. The party and the campaign body saw the Ayo Fayose template of connecting with the people but felt the examples templated by the likes of Awolowo, Balewa, Sadaurna, Aminu Kano, Jakande and to a greater extent Clinton and Obama are too simplistic to follow.
By the time we are through with Osun elections, which I truly expect the incumbent Governor to win, I will be waiting for the explanations of the APC and its army of foot soldiers who elevated the rice discussion. Seeing that Ogbeni has shared enough rice too, I’ll also be expecting a rejoinder from Governor Fashola on why ‘it wasn’t the rice’ that won Osun. This contradiction in narration and reaction to election outcomes is the reason why most people are not sold on the APC.
In other news, the Presidential election is 7 months away and we still don’t have a clue on what the opposition has in store. The major rumour making the round is that a decampee governor might fly the party’s flag and it begs the question: if the PDP is that bad, how come you rely on their pool to make up your numbers? How do you explain the psychology of a party that harbours Adeyemi Ikuforiji but castigates Ayodele Fayose, aren’t they birds of a feather? With the promise of free education in APC’s manifesto, students are groaning where they were able to template this brand of free education. The enthusiasm that some of us felt few months back have been replaced with that familiar sigh of resignation that this is déjà vu all over again. The realities don’t just add up.
The Ekiti people rejected the APC and they should do a postmortem to critically assess why that rejection was so thorough and humiliating that it had to sweep their ‘performing governor’ away; rather than insulting/abusing the people of Ekiti who lawfully exercised their constitutionally-guaranteed right to choose. Let Ekiti voters live with the consequences of their choice and those who love crying more than the bereaved should look for other jobs while the APC puts its house in order. If you are that politically naive as to ascribe the victory of Fayose to ‘rice politics’, please feel free to do the same when the results are out in Osun, and keep recycling that ignorance. It will serve you well in later years.
Finally, His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State should take a good look at his party and apportion the blames for losing Ekiti where it rightly belongs. No need for the grandstanding and the pretentiousness that he understands the needs of Ekiti people more than them. After all, none of the aspersions being cast now were deemed necessary when the people ‘supposedly’ returned their candidate as winner; Ekiti people were not stupid then. Pick what you have to from this piece; everyone has a right to reply what he deems insulting but I wouldn’t be surprised if some suddenly see me as a PDP apologist because we are not on the same page here.
Bottom-line: Ekiti people made a choice between ‘two tested governors’ and the election was the outcome; how that is hard to comprehend is outrageously bemusing.
Debo Adejugbe is a trained Telecommunications/Electronics Engineer and a certified IT professional living in Lagos. Dad to amazing Hailey and an advocate against Sexual and Domestic Abuses. Debo has political sympathy for the Labour Party. He tweets from @deboadejugbe
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija